Shinnecock Hills Golf Club traces its roots to an 1889-1890 trip by William K. Vanderbilt, Edward Meade and Duncan Cryder, to Biarritz in southern France where they encountered Willie Dunn, from Scotland, who was building a golf course at the resort.
Back in the United States, Meade and Cryder scouted for a place for a golf course near New York City. They chose the sandhills adjoining the Long Island Railroad just east of the Shinnecock Canal. The 80-acre parcel was purchased for $2,500 and 44 original members signed up for $100 each.
Willie Davis from the Royal Montreal Club designed a 12-hole course that opened in late summer 1891. Members of Shinnecock Indian Nation helped build the course (which is on land they have laid claim to and which remains in litigation). Stanford White designed the clubhouse which opened in 1892 and is said to be the oldest golf club house in the United States. In 1893, a 9-hole ladies only course was designed and built at Shinnecock Hills.
In 1894, Dunn arrived and added six more holes bringing the total to 18. That same year Dunn won an informal attempt to establish a national championship at R.I. The following year, Shinnecock was one of five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association which held the first U.S. Open in 1895 in Newport.
In 1896, Shinnecock hosted the second U.S. Open. Many of the golfers broke 80 and the course which was playing less than 5,000 yards. This led to demands to make the course more difficult. Participating in the 1896 open was black player John Shippen.
In 1901, the popular ladies course was abandoned to allow for a lengthening and redesign by Charles B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor, retaining five of Dunn's original holes.
In 1937, William Flynn redesigned the course into a 6,740 yard configuration that is the current basic layout. Flynn's design retains five of Macdonald and Raynor's holes and the green of a sixth hole. Since then, the course has been extended to its current 6,996 yards status by the addition of extra tees.
In all, Shinnecock Hills has hosted the U.S. Open on four occasions, most recently in 2004 when Retief Goosen was the victor. The course also hosted the 1896 U.S. Amateur and the 1977 Walker Cup.
William Vanderbilt, Duncan Cryder and Edward Mead first saw the game of golf played while on a winter vacation in France. Upon their return, the trio decided to build a course in the swank Long Island town of Southampton. After asking for assistance from the Royal Montreal Golf Club (the oldest in North America), Willie Davis, Royal Montreal's professional, was given a month's leave from his duties and sent to the Southampton. With the help of 150 Shinnecock Indians from the nearby reservation, a 12-hole course was constructed in 1891. The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was formally organized that August and became the first such club in the United States.
In 1893 a nine-hole laides-only course was designed and built at Shinnecock Hills and in 1895 Willie Dunn added six more holes to the original course.
From the start, Shinnecock Hills has been admired and studied. The course hosted the U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur tournaments in 1896. But in 1901 the popular women's-only Red Course was abandon to allow for a lengthening and redesign of the 18-hole White Course by C.B. MacDonald and Seth Raynor.
When a highway development cut the course in two, another redesign was completed by the team of Toomey and Flynn in 1931. The 7th, 9th and 17th holes designed by MacDonald and Raynor remained as they were, but much of the course known to golf lovers today dates from this era.
A unique aspect of the course is that the longest par 4s generally play downwind while the shorter par 4s play into the wind, which usually blows from the southwest. Because the terrain is so hilly, and the native grasses so thick, Shinnecock Hills is challenging both off the tee and from the fairway. However, many of the tee boxes are elevated in order to give players a clear view of fairway bunkers, sand areas and hazards that must be carried. Shinnecock is hard, but it fair.
The 474-yard, par-4 6th hole features mounds, sand and rough that partial obscure the landing area of the fairway which angles to the right. On the second shot, players must hit uphill and over a pond that sits about 50 yards short and right of the green. A large bunker protects the green short and left of the putting surface. It's not uncommon to see the average player lay-up with his second shot and try to pitch-and-putt his way to a par on this hole.
The 189-yard, par-3 Redan-style 7th hole plays into the prevailing wind, which actually helps most players. Ideally, with the green tilting from front-right to back-left, the ideal tee shot should land softly on the front portion of the green because anything landing on the left portion will feed down to the flat area behind the green.
The uphill, 158-yard par-3 11th hole is very tricky because it plays downwind. The green slopes from back to front, but three of the four greenside bunkers guard the front, so safely hitting a shot that stops in the middle of the putting surface is tough.
The famous clubhouse at Shinnecock Hills, designed Stanford White, sites on top of a hill and is an indelible icon of the club.
Three U.S. Open Championships have been played at Shinnecock Hills in the modern era. In 1986 Raymond Floyd won at the age of 43. In 1995, Cory Pavin hit a famous 4-wood to within six feet of the hole on 18 Sunday to secure his victory, and in 2004 Retief Goosen's amazing putting display overcame some of the most brutal conditions in U.S. Open history. The U.S. Open will return to the course in 2018.
Design - Golf Course at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club